5 Incredible Wildlife Spectacles to Spot on Jura
Jura is mountainous, wild, and sparsely populated. It’s the eighth largest Scottish island and yet only around 200 people live here. But one thing that is abundant on this remote and quiet island is wildlife.
Spot the Scotland Big 5: Jura's Wildlife
Moorland, machair, bogs, lochs, intertidal areas, and shoreline support an incredible array of birds, plants, and iconic Scottish animals such as red deer, otter, and seals. So, if you love wildlife, make a journey to Jura and look out for these five wildlife spectacles.
One thing you’ll definitely see if you visit Jura is red deer. Some sources say the island’s name derives from the Norse for deer. These magnificent creatures, Britain’s largest land mammals, are everywhere (there are around 6,000 of them on the island). They graze on the lower ground during the winter and take to the hills during the summer months. The stags can be huge, easily weighing up to 17 stone and more, and are incredibly photogenic. The mating season or ‘rut’ takes place during late September and October when the stags engage in antlered combat for their own harem of hinds and the hills echo with the sound of their roar.
Wild goats are another wildlife highlight on Jura. The island has a population of around 500, many of which can be found on the northwest coast where they graze on seaweed along the shore. These shy creatures have long, shaggy coats and the billy-goats have curved, swept-back horns. Look out for the kids, which are born in January. They’re super cute!
Otters are found all along Jura’s coastline. These playful creatures are a joy to see in the wild. If you’re walking along Jura’s coast you’ll have a good chance of spotting one. The best time for an otter spot is dawn or dusk. Look for a V-shaped wake behind its head as it swims. When they dive, watch for their tail lifting out of the water. Stay still and look for the animal resurfacing, often with a tasty crab or other shellfish in its mouth.
Both grey and common seals are abundant around Jura. You’ll often see them basking on rocks just offshore or popping up in bays to see what’s happening. There are small colonies around the northwest of Loch Tarbert. The common seals are cute-looking creatures with rounded heads, big flippers, whiskery muzzles, and large, dark eyes. They’re much smaller than grey seals which are around 2 meters long, nose to tail.
Keep your eyes to the sky above Jura and you may well see a majestic golden eagle. This spectacular predator, the UK’s second-largest bird of prey, can often be seen soaring over the island’s remote glens, moorland, and mountains. You could also spot a white-tailed eagle. Weighing up to 15lb and with an eight-foot wingspan, it’s the UK’s largest bird of prey and the fourth largest eagle in the world. Other birds of prey on Jura include kestrels, hen harriers, peregrines, buzzards, and owls. Of course, these are just five of the highlights.
Getting to Jura
To get to the Jura, first head to Islay. The islands are separated by the Sound of Islay, a half-mile-wide stretch of water. The ferry runs from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura. The other option is to catch the Jura Passenger Ferry from Tayvallich in mid-Argyll directly to Craighouse on Jura.
Wildlife across Argyll & the Isles
There’s plenty of other wildlife to discover as you explore the stunning Hebridean island of Jura, from sea birds to mountain hares. And if you love wildlife, why not visit neighbouring Islay too? Islay is best known for its birdlife. There’s something for the birdwatcher all year round. In autumn, thousands of white-fronted and barnacle geese arrive on the island from Greenland. It’s a truly spectacular sight.
Find out more about things to see and do on Islay & Jura.